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Talk to Al Jazeera

Gloria Steinman discusses the feminist movement and whether men need a liberation movement.

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00:31:00

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San Francisco, CA, USA

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Channel v107

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mpeg2video

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ac3

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720

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480

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Gloria Steinem 7, Us 6, India 2, Gloria Do 2, Clinton 2, Africa 2, Be Visable 1, Afghanistan 1, New York City 1, Communicatees 1, Cia 1, Gloria 1, Al Jazeera 1, Irrationality 1, Demock Rahsy 1, Stephanie Sy 1, Francis 1, Getto 1, Obama 1, Henry Hyde 1,
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  Al Jazeera America    Talk to Al Jazeera    Gloria Steinman discusses the feminist  
   movement and whether men need a liberation movement.  

    May 3, 2014
    5:00 - 5:31pm EDT  

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more more news. for more updates around the world, go to aljazeera.com. emste >> i became beautiful when i became a fenninist. up to then i was a pretty girl. i was not pretty. >> the face of filminism, gloria steinem. believes the women's battle is going on. >> a blue-colour uniform job for a man pays more. >> gloria steinem has expanded her image to address other social injustices.
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the activist turned 80. she refuses to let age slow her down or stop her advancing the fight for equality. >> they say the movement is over. >> she was awarded the presidential medal of freedom, she says for the entire women's movement, a movement she reflected on with us in her apartment in new york city. >> you turned 80. there was an image of you with the headline "this is what 80 looked like. i think that followed you every decade for the last three decades. i don't know if you remember this, on your 70th you said "this has the ring of mortality." is 80 terrifying? >> yes, it is in a lot of ways. for me 50 means the end of the center of life which for me has more significance since we have been wrongly valued. 50 was difficult.
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60 was great. it was like entering a new free country where you didn't have the feminine expectations and 70 was pretty good to. 80 is definitely about mortality. every day i see in the newspaper sometimes people i know who have died before 80. now, i plan to live to 100. even if i do, it's 20 years. if i think of something that happened 20 years ago. it seemed like yesterday. >> when i talk to women and what they think about gloria steinem, they think unapologetic about her views and glamorous and acceptable. is that how you see your legacy, making feminism less threatening in a way. >> i hope not, i would like it to be threatening, there's a lot that deserve threatening.
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we come to this with whoever we are. i hope whatever it is i am is useful to the larger huge movement that this is. but i also think people have a funny view. because they think if you can get a man you wouldn't need equal pay. here is how i learnt that. i became beautiful when i became a feminist. up until then i was a pretty girl, i was not beautiful. in contrast to what people thought a fem jipist looked like -- filminist looked like i suddenly became better looking. i realised there was something biased here. in the beginning of a movement it's important to speak out. self-identify, be visable, be autonomous and independent since you've been dependent. then the next stage is interdependent. and i think the women's movem t
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movement. >> most of our movements are becoming interlinkage. i happy no more we see them as a silo, as if they don't affect everything. >> you said before that the filminist revolution would take about 100 years. by that we are at the halfway mark. women make up about half the workforce, women tend to earn college and advance degrees and are the bread winners. do you think feminist movement is needed? >> why are there more women on campus? they are trying get out of the pink coloured getto.
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>> what is a pink coloured ghetto? >> a service job, all the jobs we can't outsource because they involve personal service, and they are disproportionately female. now her situation is worse than in my day because she's likely to graduate in big debt and make one or 2 million less over her lifetime to pay back the debt. i'm not trying to be discouraging, but to say this is real life, and we need - we don't have equal pay. >> why don't you take ownership of some gains. >> i do. i do. but when you ask me... >> when you dig into the statistics, women in their 20s that start out, according to pew research, make closer to $0.93 to the dollar, which is closer than they have before.
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there are these gains, some wonder why don't women like you that work so hart take a step -- hard take a step back and appreciate that? >> i think mainly we don't because they say the movement is over, as a way of getting rid of us. they are earning that in their 20s because they don't have children. having children is socially useful. we need to think not only about equal pay, but pay for the work of care giving that is 90% done by women. it has no economic value whatsoever. now, you know, we need to have a tax policy that attributes a value to that work. whether done by men or women, at replacement level, and that's deductible if you pay taxes and refundable if you don't. a third of the work in the country is down 90 or more percent by women and not
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rewarded at all. it's not called a job. home makers are called women that don't work. excuse me, they work harder than anybody. >> have enough men adjusted to the realities of the women's movement or has it led to men feeling displaced or confused about their role in society. >> i don't want to speak about menace a lump or women as a lump. some men understood that it's their liberation, that the masculine role is ridiculous, like the feminine yin role is ridiculous and dehuman eyeing. they are -- dehumanizing. they are fem yinnists for their answer -- filminists for their own sake saying they want to see their kids. they want policies for men as well as women. i want an equal relationship and partnership with a female or a
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male human being but i don't want to be lonely or isolated. >> there was a baseball player, dani dani daniel murphy, whose wife had a baby, and he took a few days off pat earnty lead, and he faced a big backlash. is it at the point where men feed a movement too. >> they always needed it. i came back from india, because i lived in india i realised how segregated this country was visually. and i got mad. on my own behalf, who is telling me who their frents are. when -- friends are. when men get mad saying "i want to be there when my child is
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born, it's an irreplaceable moment." i was glad that the one sports commentator that most criticised was most condemned. >> it feels some women are suffocated by the amount of choices. what ann-marie slaughter calls unresolvable tension between family and carrier. is it an unintended consequence of feminism. >> no, it's an unintended consequence of antifeminism. the point of feminism is humanity. it means men should and must become parents that spend as much time with children as women do. that question presuppose it's impossible. >> does it presuppose that we are not there, that there are not enough men willing to take on the responsibilities at home? >> yes. you know, we certainly are in a state of flux. but more of us are saying, "i'm
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not going have children with someone that doesn't love them enough to be with them." and, "i'm not going to take a job that doesn't have decent parental leave for men or women" or, "i'm going to organise to get that." we if this country work a more obsessive work week. we used to be defeated by japan, now we are worse. we need to rebel, people deserve to have a life. you don't just - if you earn a living, you deserve a living. >> coming up gloria steinem talks about gay unions and anti-abortion legislation. more with gloria steinem in a
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minute. >> i'm stephanie sy, this is "talk to al jazeera." our guest is gloria steinem, a feminist icon. let's talk about first-world problems versus third-world problems. we talked about the pay gap and other issues, and yet there are places where women are stoned for adultery. places where women can't leave
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the house without a man, where they are sentenced to gang rapes and honour killings. in places where that is happening. what is at the root, do you think, of what is working for women. >> i think we share the root and it takes different forms, and the root is controlling reproduction. if you want to control refor example you have to control women's bodies. if you want to determine paternity and ownership of children you have to restrict the freedom of women. >> is that a biological instinct. >> of course not. as far as we know it wasn't like that for all of history. it's greatly increased by racism or caste or class.
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if you have a race you want to keep pure, quote/unquote, and keep on the top you have to doubly control who women have children with so the women of the superior group are restricted and the women of the so-called inferior groups are exploited to produce cheep labour. both are suffering from a lack of ability to control their own bodies and decide when and whether to have children. >> you worked in some communicatees, in africa, afghanistan. how do you cater the message of women's liberation in places like that? >> i listen. the women there are doing it. it's not up to me, because they are experiencing it there. it's up to us to support each other. for instance, domestic violence is huge, and i believe it's bigger than in any modern demock
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rahsy in the world. if you added up all the women who have been murdered by their house bands or boyfriends -- husbands or boyfriend since 9/11 and add up the americans killed in 9/11, many more women have been murdered by their husband and boyfriend than that figure. >> violence against women is cross-cultural and is at staggering levels. adults worldwide strangled or aborted 150 million infant girls or females because they wanted a boy. why is violence against women, cross-cultural, if you are saying it doesn't have a biological root, why does it seem to be everywhere? >> first of all, it's not absolutely everywhere, there are some cultures that we see and we are coming out of it in various ways. patriarchy is a political
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system, like colonialism was a political system. that was everywhere too. racism - you know, the just ifghts for the colon -- justification for the colonisation for africa and northern americans was profound racism that people could not adapt to the future, you were almost doing them a favour, you know, to eliminate them. >> what role does religion have in it? >> usually bad. not always. >> can you expand on that? >> i'm differentiating religion and spirituality when i say that. what happened historically is the original spiritual systems in which god was seen as all living things gradually changed so god was withdrawn from nature to make it okay to conquer nature, and withdrawn from women to make it okay to conquer women. >> in other words god was used
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as a method to control. >> well, god looked suspiciously like the ruling class. >> and always was depicted as a man. >> that's what i mean. i mean jesus with blond hair and blue eyes in the middle of the middle east, please. >> didn't resonate with you? >> no. >> yet there are billions who are religious. i want to talk about pope francis. you and he had a couple of issues in common - immigration reform, human trafficking, poverty. do you have hopes that women will be less marginalised in the church and beyond. >> i want for women what they want for themselves. some women want to go into the church and reform it. some want to leave the church. we have to figure out what is most right and comfortable for us. when the pope sees to it that the catholic church pays taxes - right now they have parking lots
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they are not paying taxes on, they are impoverishing the cities and countries they are in by not paying taxes. the ceremonies are not equal. women can't become priests. women are denied reproductive freedom, the single important determinant whether we are healthy or not. in the workplace or not and he's denying that. >> it's been more than 40 years. abortion rights are fought over. between 2011 and 2013 more than 200 laws restricting abortion at the state level was introduced. what is driving the latest push towards anti-abortion legislati legislation. >> the failure at the federal level has caused the
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anti-abortion forces to focus on state legislatures controlled by conservative forces. instead of murdering abortion doctors which they did eight or nine times and picketing and so on, they are trying to do away with clinics by getting state legislatures to guess impossible restrictions and building requirements on clinics. they have long ago lost public opinion and real life. one in three american women chooses to have an abortion at some time in her life. the question is will she be safe or not. >> there are two interesting core issues that are political plash points. one is the issue of gay marriage and right in which the country and supreme court is clearly favouring those rights for gay unions.
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on the other hand you see at the state level courts moving to reintroduce restrictions on abortion. how do you square the issues from a societal perspective? >> i agree that they are related, because the same forces that oppose contraception usually oppose same sex relationships because they are basically oopposing any form of sexual expression that cannot end in conception. one thing that is going - is making the right wing fer vent right now, especially about all the issues of reproduction is that in a very short time the country will no longer ba majority white or european country. they are hyper aware of that and are constantly saying the white race is committing suicide and there's a movement that, you
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know, white kids should have as many children as possible. so generally speaking you find the same groups are against cov seption and abortion. against immigration because they see immigration - it's usually the same forces. >> we are talking to feminist icon gloria steinem, she's just turned 80. there's a hash tag named for her. what would gloria do - i asker - coming up. rsafe".
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>> in 2008 you supported hillary clinton's bid for president and you argued the sex barrier is not taken as seriously as the racial one. is the feminist movement taking a back seat to the civil rights movement? >> no, i don't think so, but the feminist movement owes much of its exitens to the civil rights union. the whole idea that we could be equal people is a contagious idea of freedom. and because in the anti-vietnam movement and in the civil rights movement, women were not altogether equal as you see in the marches, where there were no women speaking. women realised wait a minute if in the movements that matter to us so much, and are so important, we are still not, there needs to be an autonomous movement. >> you saw them as growing in
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concert as opposed to position. >> most women in the world are not white women. they may experience a form of race discrimination as well sex discrimination. for men and women, if you want to defeat racism, you have to be a feminist because you have to free reproduction. if you want to be a feminist, you have to be anti-racist. if there's racism they'll try to control women's bodies and reproduction. these things are intertwined. meanwhile clinton looks like she could be the front runner to win the democratic nomination, if she chooses to run. when she lost in 2008, you said later that you didn't expect she would win. >> no, i didn't. >> what are your expectations for 2016. >> now i think if she chooses to run she may well win.
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i thought at the time it was too soon for a feminist to win, for a deep reason. i think that we are so accustomed to being raised by women, whether we are women or men, that we associate female with childhood, irrationality, not public life and national governance. and she became secretary of state. >> yes, and she has begun to change that in national and international authority. it was a difficult time, swathe, because they were both excellent candidates and for a year people would say to me do you support hillary clinton or president obama. >> i would say yes. >> you want the medal of
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freedom, the highest award in this country. where does that rank among vindication, validation for all your work in the last 50 years. >> it was 100% clear it was an award for a movement. and i accept it in that spirit. it was clear that the meaning came from the person who gave it, which was president obama. actually, it has been given to terrible people in the past by other president, so the medal of freedom. >> so it didn't rank that high for you? >> no, it did, because it came from president obama. >> the award it is. >> no, i mean it was given to henry hyde, whose restriction of federal funds for abortion killed more women than legislation, and he got the award too. >> isn't that ironic.
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do you know there was a hash tag on twitter. hash tag wwgd - what would gloria do. >> someone told me that. i thought i should ask what would help me. >> i think for a lot of women you are a compass "what would gloria do in this or that situation?" do you feel that as pressure or praise? >> neither one. i feel it as a kind of interesting activist question. what i take it to mean is what would we do out of self respect. and you know, impulse to equality and democracy. i need to ask myself that. if that's what it symbolizes to other people, i'm proud of that. >> thank you so much for talking to al jazeera, and inviting us into your home. >> no, thank you.
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